[Pigging by Wilfrid: July 16, 2012]
Unfortunately, a late-night diner with no liquor license was less appealing, and Coppelia was left in the lurch quite some time before it could serve booze. And so I kind of forget about it, until recently.
The space is a curious amalgam of Latin kitsch and standard NYC diner fixtures, right down to the big fridges full of cakes which surely nobody eats.
I started out with an empanada, the oxtail, a dollar more expensive than chicken or beef piccadillo, but still reasonable at $3.25. I can hardly believe I have lived to see oxtail become more expensive than ground beef or chicken. Sweet, meaty filling; nice toppings of queso fresco and crumbled Cotija; a few black beans.
The main event was the Frita Cubana, a Cuban burger much honored by Time Out. It's a big sandwich. A sirloin-short rib-skirt patty is smothered with melted Swiss cheese. A gloopy mess of lettuce, tomato, pickles and red onion forms a kind of slaw.
What makes it Cuban is the inclusion of roast pork and some crunchy chicharrons. A bit too much of everything really -- the main flavor is beef and pickles -- but certainly a generous dish. I gave low marks to the yucca fries. Plenty of places manage to cut and serve real yucca fries: what Coppelia does it shape yucca mash into a sort of chicken-finger shape, bread it, and deep fry it. I prefer my yucca fries straight.
More menu info here.